The diocese of Niagara announced it has scheduled Sunday services at 8:30 a.m. at three dissenting churches, after a judge ruled on May 5 that the three congregations must share their buildings with diocesan representatives and parishioners loyal to the diocese.
Judge Jane Milanetti of the Ontario Superior Court ruled that the diocese could have access to the churches between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings, among other times.
The churches are Good Shepherd, St. Catharines; St. Hilda, Oakville and St. George, Lowville, all in southern Ontario.
“These are services of healing and rebuilding and we hope will be attended by returning and continuing parishioners,” said an announcement posted on the Web site of the diocese, which is based in Hamilton, Ont.
When the three churches voted in February to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, the diocese suspended parish clergy and appointed outside clergy as administrators. Those administrators will lead the Sunday services in the three churches, the diocese said.
According to a recorded telephone announcement, Good Shepherd changed its Sunday services times to 10:10 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. from the previous regularly-scheduled times (listed on its Web site) of 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Cheryl Chang, a spokesperson for the Anglican Network in Canada, a membership group for dissenting churches, said she believed Good Shepherd plans to share the building. No one at Good Shepherd was available for comment.
St. George posted an announcement on its Web site that it would hold Sunday worship at the Crossroads Centre – a Christian broadcasting facility with a chapel – in Burlington, Ont., about 30 km from the church.
In an open letter, Rev. Ray David Glenn said the order to share the building “was tantamount to an order to leave.” The church could not accommodate the diocesan service time, felt that sharing would “consume massive energy, time and resources” and that any association with the diocese or the national church “was injurious to our ability to carry out our primary purpose, preaching the gospel of Jesus as revealed in Holy Scripture and received from the saints.”
A representative of St. Hilda directed the Anglican Journal to the church’s Web site, which noted that at a parish meeting on May 8, the congregation “decided that their Sunday worship would not take place in the church building.” It also said its “pattern of weekly worship is now disrupted” by the court decision.
The message also said that on May 11, members of the congregation will worship at nearby Oakville Christian School.
“We see this as a new beginning – this coming Sunday is Pentecost,” said the message. “We also stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in St. George’s and the Church of the Good Shepherd. Weekday ministries will continue at St. Hilda’s as usual.”
The network, which views the national church as too liberal, especially on the subject of homosexuality, has international oversight from Archbishop Gregory Venables, the Buenos Aires-based primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.